RAIN! In honor of El Nino’s “moisture plume” that’s predicted to sweep into droughty California this weekend and next week, I’m posting a couple of rain dance poems. One was based on an authentic rain dance I was taught in Hawai’i. We hired this teacher and he came with his drum to work work the four of us who were sharing a house on Kaua’i. He played and we danced on the lanai, summoning the gods of rain, and then it rained for three days straight! On and off, though, so our vacation wasn’t spoiled. I have ever since been impressed by the idea of rain dancing. Thanks to the editors of Stirring magazine, where “Rain Hula” originally appeared:
Rain Hula at Anini Beach
He arrived on our moldy lanai,
swept-up hair bedecked with a hibiscus.
An indeterminate pronoun
in an orange sarong, he kissed
us damply on both cheeks,
in air, a double cross. Introduced himself
as Pa’ula without looking us in the eyes.
He demonstrated the kahiko, a history in dance
of Hanalei Bay’s fifteen kinds of rain.
Pa’ula’s large, wide feet stamped
down the spade-digging torrents of aka-ula,
and his fingers petal-whisked hanini showers.
Undulant brown biceps rippled up a sea spout
and a chant rose from his proud throat,
a belly-anchored cry to clouds.
But the eyes mourned as he broke
down each leaf-soft move
for our architect and teacher fingers.
He laid mourning words at our white feet
as they tangled on themselves and sweat sprayed.
On the beach, palm fronds thrilled
to his drum, but we woke
only the neighbors with our stamping.
This one is from my most recent book, Gods of Water and Air (available in ebook or print on Amazon):
A contrapuntal drumming on skylight and roof,
andante, vivace, allegro —
a run of notes up and up, rain’s
finger exercises. Mesmeric hour, then bullet-hail.
A thousand knocks on the door. Hello, hello?
He knows I’m trying to get out, but pretends
no one’s home. I’m inside the instrument, hammered
between vibrating strings. All night the poles shift, mayhem gusts.
After that, between us only hard rain for days,
When I roll over to touch, he rolls away. Lightning’s
swift split. Shivering for hours.
Trees bend sideways in the blast, seaweed in currents.
The redwood snipped off by a bolt. The dog under the bed.
The storm door is open, but it’s not the Doors of Paradise,
filigreed with figurines like the doors of the Baptistry in Florence
that day we browsed, careless of our savings. Today we’re baptized
by a deluge, out of cash and luck, and despite umbrellas and cloaks.
We endure cold-lipped neck kisses of rain dripping down our backs
as we trudge to chilly coffeehouses. With Old Testament winds,
January sculpts. When the chisel slips, a car is crushed by a tree.
A house falls into the ocean. A car hydroplanes off a freeway,
Like its occupant, I lie undiscovered for days.
Three weeks of storms, a wet juggernaut from the northwest
met by slushy southerlies. Soil sludge, but gardeners
with jet-packs still blow around the ruins of hedges, mad
as the gods who hurl monsoon rains. Even computers
and weathermen can’t get it right: Thou shalt or shalt not?
I have been undone by the yammering, and lay my neck
on this altar. I ready myself to join the sky,
symphonically rushing down the drains.
Frankenstorm was what they called a computer model
of a hurricane stalled in the middle of the Golden State.
Weeks of wet, many feet of rain, new rivers and lakes
where had been towns, a flood subsiding into giant puddles.
They needed to decide about disaster drills, but canceled the meeting
because of rain. We were haunted by the crackling air
and the sky, like us, refused to relent.
Visit https://racheldacus.net for more information and writing by Rachel Dacus.